Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spice and Wolf Volume 1 Review!

I've been meaning to write this review for a while and have finally decided to set my butt down and write this out.

This review is for volume 1 of what is one of the more illustrious Japanese light novels to have hit the American market. Translated by Yen Press, Spice & Wolf is the story of a traveling merchant who picks up a companion in Holo the Wise Wolf, god of the harvest. Having read the first novel, I can say with all certainty that Spice & Wolf is definitely one of my favorite light novels currently being translated.

I believe what I enjoyed most about this story was how it focused more on the interactions between the mercurial Holo and the more steadfast Lawrence. The dynamic byplay between them is quite clever, and I absolutely enjoy reading about them bantering back and forth. Lawrence, despite all his worldly knowledge from traveling the world as a merchant is constantly struggling to keep up with Holo's cleverness in their playful battle of wits.

One of the underlying aspects of this story is the struggling loneliness that both of the main characters feel. Holo, as a seven-hundred year old immortal wolf god, has been alone for a long time. Lawrence lives the life of a traveling merchant, constantly moving, never staying in one place for very long. Both have, up until this point, lacked the companionship they so desire, and it becomes clear as the story progresses that they're beginning to find that companionship in each other.

Hasekura's writing style is also very easy to follow. It's smooth and easy to read. He never gets bogged down by descriptions, but has a sufficient amount that I'm not wondering about the setting. Above and beyond that, he never forgets that his characters and their interactions are the driving point in his story, as opposed to the events that are being portrayed.

I must also give my congratulations to Yen Press for successfully translating this novel. The translation is smooth and devoid of the many idioms and slang choices that populate Japanese light novels far too often. Throughout the read, I only found one grammatical error where they used "it" twice in a row. Considering this is 230 pages long and they are translating it, I can forgive this small issue as it didn't detract from the story at all. Overall, this is an excellent introduction into what looks like an engaging read.